§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he can inform the House, before to-day's Debate, on the Air Service, whether the Government have any intention of raising afresh, by inquiry or otherwise, the question of the independent status of the Air Force and Air Ministry?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I think it essential to announce that, in accordance with the policy of successive Administrations, the Government have no intention of re-opening the question of a separate Air arm and Air Ministry. We intend to pursue the organisation of Imperial Defence on the existing basis of three co-equal Services. It is in the interests of the Fighting Services that controversy upon this subject should now cease.
We are convinced that the way to secure the higher co-ordination in our Defence machinery, indispensable to full efficiency and, indeed, to economy, lies not in the abolition of any one of the three established arms of His Majesty's Forces, but in combined action between all three through the machinery of the Committee of Imperial Defence and the agency of the recently instituted Committee of Chiefs of Staff. We are sure that we can rely upon all concerned to devote themselves loyally and wholeheartedly to this end.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire into the feasibility of a Ministry of Defence for the co-ordination of the three Services on better lines in view of the economies that would result?
§ Mr. BASIL PETO
Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that he recently asked Members of this House to make suggestions for economy, and therefore, on the ground of economy alone, is it not desirable that the question referred to in his answer should at least be debated, and that Members should not be understood to be muzzled and not to raise questions of this sort because it has been announced that it is not the policy of His Majesty's Government?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The thought of muzzling never entered my head. A statement on somewhat similar lines has been made by each successive Government. I think it is the appropriate time, when these Estimates come before the House, to make such a statement.